No worries.

halfface

It turns out artists make a lot of mistakes. We only think they are wonderfully talented, with perfect products immediately dripping off their paintbrushes or keyboards, because we see the finished product and not all of the drafts and abandoned projects along the way. So when we sit down to write or draw or craft or hum out a melody, we can set aside the worry that we aren’t up for the task if our first efforts are less than perfect. Mistakes are the training ground. The more the better because each teaches us what doesn’t work or how something could work better. It is all practice making us more perfect. What’s a failure is being scared to start.

Walk in the direction of your values.

walking

It takes courage to be authentic. It is so easy to stay disconnected from our emotions, afraid to listen to the messages they give us, to put on a happy face, constantly, to be afraid to buck the crowd or disturb the status quo. But the things that upset us are clues, really, to what needs fixing. They are data points that we can take in and consider what needs help–in ourselves, in our relationships, in the world. And tuning in to the full breadth of our emotions juxtaposed against our values can help us discover how we can make contributions in our society–to unmask wrongdoing, to stand up on behalf of the vulnerable, even to advocate on behalf of those society is only too willing to throw away. Authenticity helps us find our voices and the courage even when we are afraid to put on our work boots and start walking in the direction of positive social change.

A time to grieve.

grief

 

This hurts. A physical, mind-numbing ache for what has been lost, not just the lives, though that is staggering, but also for the world we hoped for. A tragedy reminds us that the world is not peaceful yet, that there is so much work to be done, so much hurt to soothe, so many wounds to bind. Some turn to anger and lash out because this grief is heavy and painful. It is hard to bear. We are afraid. But even in the midst of our fear and our anger and all of our grief, there is beauty. The sun rises again. The birds sing. There is hope for a new, better day, yet still. Yet, still.

Redemption Song

by Kevin Young

Finally fall.
At last the mist,
heat’s haze, we woke
these past weeks with

has lifted. We find
ourselves chill, a briskness
we hug ourselves in.
Frost greying the ground.

Grief might be easy
if there wasn’t still
such beauty — would be far
simpler if the silver

maple didn’t thrust
it’s leaves into flame,
trusting that spring
will find it again.

All this might be easier if
there wasn’t a song
still lifting us above it,
if wind didn’t trouble

my mind like water.
I half expect to see you
fill the autumn air
like breath —

At night I sleep
on clenched fists.
Days I’m like the child
who on the playground

falls, crying
not so much from pain
as surprise.
I’m tired of tide

taking you away,
then back again —
what’s worse, the forgetting
or the thing

you can’t forget.
Neither yet —
last summer’s
choir of crickets

grown quiet.

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Err away.

portal

Children are born discoverers, unafraid to make mistakes. Everything is new. Around every corner, a new adventure.

Somewhere along the way, though, we are taught it is wrong to make mistakes, and we avoid them at all costs, even, sometimes, by sticking to what we already know well rather than venturing out to try new things.

But what’s so bad about making a mistake? Is it even a mistake, really, if we learn from it?

Many medical breakthroughs and inventions came from mistakes. Post-it notes, microwaves, penicillin, artificial sweetener, chewing gum, x-rays. On and on. Things discovered by mistake.

When we get afraid to try new things or do things differently, we fall into a rut and diminish our ability to create and see new points of view. Our one way of doing and thinking wears a groove in our brains. In short, we turn into old, rigid people.

Getting out of those ruts, can re-engage our brains and creativity and cause us to make new connections, see new perspectives, discover new things. But first, we need to abandon our fear of mistakes and replace it with curiosity.

What is right there, just outside your normal way of doing and seeing, waiting to be discovered?

 

 

Step into the arena.

fearwrong

There’s always a critic. Someone to point out what you did wrong, how you should have done it, what you missed. That may be just a fact of life; they’re everywhere. Sadly.

But if those critics stop us from creating, from expressing our opinions, from being unique, that’s unacceptable. We each have our own song to sing, our own art to create, our own way to play. And we must be unwilling to have that creative spirit smothered.

How empty it must be to spend all your time on the side line criticizing someone else instead of creating yourself. Why listen to those sad unfortunate souls? We need to step into the arena and let our creative spirit take shape instead.

As Teddy Roosevelt said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Yes, you will err. Yes, you are subject to criticism if you try. But just stepping into the arena is a success. Let your gifts see the light of day.

Shine.

Fear as motivation?

fearwilson

What should we make of fear? Of course, fear is often what helps us exercise caution and keeps us whole. But what of the fear that makes us give up before we try? Fear of failure, or success, or looking like an idiot, or putting ourselves out there just to be rejected–what of these?

Perhaps those types of fear should just be viewed as motivation for the next life stage to enter, another step on the journey. Perhaps, even if our ultimate fear is realized, it won’t be half as bad as not stepping out and trying.

What’s shadow?

suffer

How many of our daily fears and worries are consumed by things that may never happen? Or by inferences or assumptions that may not jibe with did happen? Or by reliving in our heads over and over again past trauma?

How much suffering is from the actual event or trauma itself?

Sometimes it’s helpful to breathe deeply and remind ourselves of our connection to the earth, our senses, this place and time. Our worries and fears can run wild if we don’t constantly remind ourselves that they are not solid like a pebble in our hand, but amorphous and changeable depending on our perspective.

Advice to your younger self.

advise

What can you tell us? With all of your experiences to date, what have you learned that you can pass on to help others? How would you advise your younger self?

For many of us, that advice would be: don’t be afraid. In this delightful video, elders counsel their juniors with some gems on how to negotiate this crazy world.

 

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Have courage.

couragemuscle

What frightens you? Is it holding you back from trying new things, meeting new people, going new places? Fear is a crippler. Your mind is extremely good at playing worst case scenarios for you in the wee hours. Habit seems safe, so we stick to the same things, day in and day out.

But at what cost?

What is out there waiting to be discovered? Who is a friend you have yet to meet?

Sometimes we have to push against our fear, take the first step, even if it is just a baby step. And then keep walking. Keep exploring. Keep learning. Keep opening up to new people and new possibilities. The world is full of opportunities waiting to be experienced. You are capable of growing and blossoming and stretching.

Take that step.

Shine your light.

light

You were born to be a blessing to others. To shine your light where there is dark. To sing songs of praise. To give of yourself without holding back.

That’s kind of out there, isn’t it? Scary. Who are you to be shining a light in the dark places of the world, after all?

Marianne Williamson answers this question brilliantly:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Shine, Baby, Shine!